Integrating the Art of Science and the Science of Art through Multi-Disciplinary Education
The educational objectives and methodologies of the Arts and the Sciences are often seen to be at cross-purposes. The creative arts encourage individual interpretation and qualitative assessment while the sciences rely upon objective consistency and quantitative results. However, practitioners in both fields recognize there is an important role for the “science of art” and the “art of science”. This presentation is a demonstration of the practical benefit to engineering design education of the inclusion of instruction in fine arts as well as the benefit to music education of the incorporation of the science of sound presented in a musically meaningful context. Specific examples are provided that illustrate the successful integration of the strengths of arts education (music and visual arts) and engineering education (design and acoustics) to provide an enriched and multi-disciplinary learning environment. At the University of Calgary, first year engineering design students are taught by a multi-disciplinary team of instructors and tutorial assistants from the faculties of engineering, fine art and communications. Teaching and learning methodologies adapted from the creative arts are used extensively to provide effective training in the soft skills of creative problem solving, team work, visual, written and oral communication through the pursuit of creative solutions to real unsolved problems in the community (local and global). Recently, the reverse integration is being developed and tested. Seminars have been developed and delivered at the Music faculty and at local high school music programs that combine band class with acoustics theory and measurement to help music students to visualize sound in order to better understand tone, ensemble, blend, balance and breathing. In addition, high school physics classes have attended the seminars in the band room in order that they can experience the real world of sound that is modeled by the physics formulae.
Keywords: Knowledge Integration, Multi-Disciplinary Teaching and Learning, Design, Acoustics, Music, Visual Arts
Dr. Daryl Caswell
Senior Instructor, Schulich School of Engineering